Film Study: Why LSU Football Defensive Tackle Recruit Maason Smith Has Highest Ceiling in 2021 Class

Glen West

There may not be a 2021 prospect with a higher ceiling than Maason Smith. The massive defensive tackle already displayed major improvement from 2019 to 2020, and he still possesses plenty of room to improve.

Before diving into the film of Smith, realize that few people possess the raw physical traits of this young man. One cannot teach explosiveness in a 6-foot-4, 315-pound body.

That’s God-given.

The Houma (La.) Terrebonne prospect has made significant improvements from last season. Smith’s improvements, unlike his natural gifts, are self-motivated. That will pay long-term dividends if Smith continues to hone his craft.

While there are countless plays that can be used to describe technique and break down every little detail, the following clips are meant to display a combination of Smith’s physical prowess and his budding understanding of how to attack the line of scrimmage based on what the offensive linemen show pre-snap. All of the following clips are from this football season.

After looking at numerous clips, the following two definitively pronounce Smith’s style of play: power, agility and recognition. First up, the bull rush.

This first highlight is exactly what one would expect, unadulterated power. More importantly, this tackle for loss began with two key ingredients. A quick first step that minimized the gap between Smith and the offensive guard, as well as striking the offensive guard before he placed his hands on Smith.

Watch Smith take the fight to the offensive guard. It’s explosive! Smith finished off the play by making the play in the backfield. Well done.

This second clip displayed the most promise. The offensive tackle and guard set up with a fairly wide split between them. Bad idea. Real bad idea. Smith lined up at defensive tackle, or three technique if one will, and once again exploded out of his stance towards the opening.

Smith’s first step with his right leg is long. He gained so much ground in fact, he almost crossed the face of the right guard that was attempting to pull. This play showed a vast improvement in Smith’s quickness, and also his flexibility. Both very good signs. As for the offensive linemen in front of him, the play only continued to worsen.

Smith slid in between the tackle and guard and all but took the handoff. Smith hit the B-gap really fast and his hip was beyond the pulling tackle before the offensive tackle made his second step. That’s talent, effort and recognition wrapped into one package.

This type of penetration will set the tone for a defense. It also will change how an opposing offensive coordinator will go about calling plays.

It will be interesting to see Smith as the season progresses. He’s already improved his play from last season, showing better quickness and flexibility. More importantly, he’s recognizing opportunities to expose opposing offensive linemen.

When combining Smith’s natural physical ability with his ever improving understanding of the game of line play, it’s really impressive to watch. Here are the full highlights of Smith from each of his first four games.

Thibodeaux

Vanderbilt Catholic

Hahnville

South Terrebonne

With another 10 months before Smith begins his first college fall camp, there will be plenty of time to refine technique and grasp offensive line tendencies. He’s just now scratching the surface of what he can become during his college career. Imagine Smith two years from now. It’s scary.

Look for another review of Smith’s video at the conclusion of the 2020 Louisiana high school football season. 

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